Top Pay TV Providers Lost 385K Subs in 2015

Cable Shed Fewest Video Subs Since 2006, LRG Says
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The 13 largest U.S. pay TV providers, representing about 95% of the market, lost about 385,000 net video subs in 2015, widened from a loss of 150,000 in 2014, Leichtman Research Group (LRG) found in its latest industry analysis.

Notably, the top nine U.S. cable MSOs lost about 345,000 video subs in 2015, narrowed from losses of 1.21 million in 2014. The subs lost by U.S. cable MSOs in 2015 were the fewest in any year since 2006, LRG said.

The top telcos, meanwhile, lost 125,000 video subs in 2015, versus a gain of 1.05 million in 2015, and marked the first year in which the telco TV sub base declined.

DirecTV (now part of AT&T) and Dish Network added a combined 86,000 subs in 2015, a figure that includes gains from Sling TV -- Dish’s OTT-TV service -- versus a gain of 20,000 in 2014. Without Sling TV's base, DBS providers lost about 450,000 subs in 2015, LRG said.

The top pay TV providers now account for 94.2 million video subs – the top nine cable companies have 49.0 million of them, satellite TV has 33.7 million, and the largest telco TV providers have nearly 11.5 million.

In Q4 2015, those same major pay TV providers added 110,000 subs, up from 90,000 in the year-ago quarter.

The top MSOs added 125,000 in Q4 (the first quarter for net video adds since Q1 2008), and DirecTV’s net adds of 214,000 subs were higher than in any quarter since Q4 2010, LRG said.

“2015 marked the third consecutive year for pay-TV industry net losses, yet the total number of subscribers for major pay-TV providers (including DISH’s Sling TV) has declined by less than one million since the industry peaked in 1Q 2012,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG, in a statement. “2015 also saw significant shifts for cable and Telco providers.  The top cable providers cumulatively had their best year since 2006, and had about 870,000 fewer losses than in 2014.  Telcos had about 1,170,000 fewer net additions than in 2014, and had their worst year since they began providing video services in 2006.”